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What is Voltaren® Gel?

By CPW
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Voltaren® Gel, also known as Flector® Patch, Solaraze®, and Voltaren® Topical, is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is used particularly to treat arthritis and osteoarthritis. It was the first prescription-based topical treatment that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States. It reduces inflammation in the joints and can be applied to hands, feet, ankles, knees, tendons, ligaments, and other areas of the body amenable to the application of a topical-based treatment.

Voltaren® Gel contains the active ingredient diclofenac sodium, as diclofenac diethylammonium. Diclofenac has analgesic, antipyretic, and anti-inflammatory properties. Its effectiveness in fighting the pain associated with osteoarthritis is derived from its ability to inhibit an enzyme known as Cyclo-oxygenase, which produces substances called prostaglandins in the body. When the body suffers an injury or contracts an illness or infection, these prostaglandins are released to fight it. This process entails nerve sensitization, which means that the nerves are more sensitive to pain. By reducing the number of prostaglandins produced by the body by a process of biosynthesis inhabitation, the diclofenac in the Voltaren® Gel is able to subdue and reduce pain.

Other than its primary application to the pain areas associated with arthritis and osteoarthritis, the diclofenac in Volataren® Gel is effective in the relief of a number of muscle and bone-related ailments. From simple aches, sprains, and bruises to fractures, breaks, and dislocations, the analgesic in Voltaren® Gel is proven to offer pain relief. Other conditions that it is known to help relieve are migraine headaches, gout, menstrual pain, dysmenorrhea, and nose, ear, and throat infections.

Voltaren® Gel is applied externally to the site of pain with pain relief ensuing approximately 20 minutes later. It is recommended that the gel be applied two to three times a day to the pain site. The gel form of the Voltaren® formula is particularly suitable for those people who do not wish to ingest the drug. This is an especially relevant consideration when assessing the suitability of a pain relieving agent because oral versions have been known to cause stomach upsets and heart, liver, and kidney problems. The systemic absorption of Voltaren® Gel is 94 percent less than its oral equivalent, however, which implies that the gel form is a less effective, if safer, form of the drug.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon299261 — On Oct 24, 2012

I have osteoarthritis in my hands, and had been taking oral diclofenac, which was effective, but of course there are the known side effects. My doctor prescribed Voltaren gel, and I tried it. It is noticeably less effective - almost not effective at all.

My insurance does not cover Voltaren, beyond a $10 discount, so the diclofenac therapy is the only one I can afford.

Since NSAIDs have so much downside risk for folks over 60 like myself, I have decided to stop taking them entirely, other than a low-dose aspirin each day, and rely instead on Tylenol for pain relief. I would rather be alive and in some pain than disabled or dead from a stroke.

By anon261798 — On Apr 17, 2012

Why is there a shortage of this medication? The public needs this because it works, so why the shortage?

By anon144529 — On Jan 20, 2011

I am in the UK and have had a prescription for the gel for foot tendinitis and RA. I've also used it for a pulled shoulder. I use the gel now where I would have used the tablets and for me it's a miracle product! --LW

By anon122720 — On Oct 29, 2010

Personally,I think it's a good thing! It definitely helps my leg and hip pain from my recent (four months ago) back surgery, and the arthritis pain in my hands. About Medicaid: my best friend is on that, and is lucky to be because of all of the surgery he has had to have on his leg which was amputated.

You were lucky to get the hydrocodone! Most ERs don't want to give out medication, because they're afraid or they suspect every person coming in of being a drug addict or something. I know about all of the prior certifications, but on the other hand, there are a lot of other insurance carriers that also want pre-certs, referrals, etc., that didn't used to.

So now, with this new reform coming about, guess we'll see what it's really all about next year. Oh, are you needing knee replacement? My dad suffered for over a year while the VA just gave meds, took x-rays and sent him to physical therapy! What he needed all the time was a knee replacement. He got a private orthopaedic surgeon, had the knee replacement and feels great!

By anon116634 — On Oct 07, 2010

I was prescribed this Voltaren Gel for a severely pulled or popped hamstring. Is it similar to Icy Hot or Bengay that I know I have around my house or gym bag?

By anon108517 — On Sep 03, 2010

i was given this gel for my knee which has been broken, and has arthritis in it. I need a knee replacement. well, being on medicaid, which everyone thinks is the golden ticket, it's not. Believe me. You have to have a prior approval for this cream.

my doc gave me a sample and it didn't change a thing. Anyway, also for your information, i need injections in my knee and the doctor told me i had to wait 15 days for a prior approval on that shot. {cortisone and steroid.} i was so upset.

Why should I have to wait? i am in pain now. so i went to the ER thinking maybe they could give me the shot. the doctor told me he could give me the shot, if he could "watch me" because it raises blood sugar and b/p etc. i said, well my doctor isn't going to "watch me." i watch myself. So i said well please admit me and so i can have some relief. even the pain meds aren't working, and all i got was hydrocodone. He said no.

so people, your government dollar for medicaid doesn't help. medicaid is a joke. good luck with the gel, but it doesn't work.

By anon99880 — On Jul 27, 2010

I have RMA and Fibromyalgia and this is a wonder drug in relieving pain.

By pistachios — On Jul 16, 2010

My husband, a former football player, has had joint and muscle pain for years. We tried every over-the-counter pain relief pill from Tylonel to natural supplements that claimed to work like magic. Nothing ever soothed his aches. However, these pains were simply the result of old injuries required no surgery or narcotics. Finally, a friend told us about Voltaren Gel. We talked to our doctor about it and he said we could give it a try. It worked wonders and my husband now uses it every time there's a pain that flares up in his muscles or joints.

By anon65565 — On Feb 14, 2010

How will the gel from this product interact with a laser treatment, marketed under the name, Laser Cure? I have used the Laser Cure for five weeks and found it to be nothing short of miraculous to treat RA. Thanks, RMC

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